While most of the country is staying home and industries are trying to figure out the future, great salespeople are practicing empathy. To be sure we are all concerned about the future. Great salespeople are helping their A-list customers survive and plan to thrive again.
Great salespeople know that empathy is the ability “to walk in your customer’s shoes.” To engage the customer where they are right now. We are “people people”. We strive to understand our customers first then present our value proposition. COVID-19 pandemic is the “elephant in the room.” So don’t ignore it. Begin each sales call with a discussion about the pandemic. How does it affect your customer personally and professionally? Then move on to discuss your value proposition. Great salespeople have the ability to let their humanity lead them in asking good questions to connect on a personal level. They understand customers won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
These are trying times for everyone. Great salespeople know how to use their sales skills to build trust. We may be using new technology to connect with customers and prospects. But salespeople are learning to adapt fundamentals of selling to new methods. Now is not the time to push your own agenda. But now we have opportunity to help our customers and targeted prospects. We build trust by asking what we can do to help our customers at this time. When we are more helpful than the competition, when we move faster to provide that help. And when we are creative in our approach to providing value to customers, we are in a strong position to gain their trust and grow business with them over the long term.
Now is not the time for traditional thinking. Great salespeople are in touch with their clients vetting new ideas. Think about how your customer feels to be declared “non-essential.” How might that make you feel? Well maybe you rise to the challenge to become essential like one of our local small restaurants did. The owner who is in the process of building out her new restaurant found her business deemed non-essential. Not be deterred she knows that everyone still needs to eat. Restaurants are closed so the local farmers who supply them are stuck with truckloads of produce. This entrepreneur goes to social media to set up a virtual market where farmers and home-bound cooks can arrange for home delivery of fresh produce. She has built trust not only with her farmer suppliers but also with customers for her new restaurant. Great salespeople help their customers think creatively.
Control Only What You Can
This may be an abnormal time for all of us. There is much about life and work we cannot control. But isn’t that true in “normal” times as well. Great salespeople focus on what they can control. Top performers know what activities they must do every day to be successful. They prospect, follow-up, send notes, read about their customers and markets, improve their skills and cheerlead. Great salespeople know what they control and use their skills to help their customers succeed.
Plan For The Future
Great salespeople keep a balanced view of the future midway between tragic pessimism and blue-sky optimism. Salespeople have their finger on the pulse of the marketplace. They are in a great place to help their customers reimagine the future. In the last quarter of 2019 I doubt many companies included a global economic shut down in their plans. But it is now the reality. Take what you know and use it to help your company and customers see the path forward. Great salespeople use their human-to-human skills to determine customers current needs and view of the future. They also stay aware of the plans of their customers from published information, social media and personal research. Professional sales people who practice empathy are the closest to the customer and the best source of information on future plans.
What You Can Do Right Now
- Practice empathy
- Listen attentively
- Focus on what you have control of
- Be helpful first, sell second
To learn more sales secrets see Chapter Six, Characteristics Of Successful Salespeople, in Secrets of the Softer Side of Selling. For even more sales encouragement, join our FREE Sales Club! “See” you next week.